Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple,Srirangam, Trichy

Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple is situated at Trichy/ Tiruchirapally in Tamil Nadu State.This is  at 'Sri Rangam' of Trichy which is  an islet  formed by river Cauvery.This beautiful enormous Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and it is the first and foremost temple among the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu known as   'Divya Desams'.
Sri Ranganatha Swamy (Lord Vishnu) and his consort Ranga Nayaki (Lakshmi Devi) are the main deities worshiped in this temple but there are sub deities of other incarnations of Lord Vishnu such as 'Chakrathazhvar,Narasimha,Rama,Hayagreeva, and statues of 'Acharyas' like 'Ramanujacharya,Dhanwanthari, are also in this temple.
The temple sprawls in an area of 156 acres and the sanctum  is surrounded by seven concentric walls.The outermost wall has a perimeter of 3 km.There are 21 beautifully sculptured majestic towers which are called as 'Gopurams'.All the Gopurams  have carved and painted  statues of characters from Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharatha etc.
The main deity Ranganatha Swamy is in reclining posture as like that of Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram.He is reclining on the serpent 'Adi Sesha'.Images of 'Brahma,Hanuman,Vibhishana,Rama,Garuda,and symbols of Vishnu such as Conch and discuss are seen inside the sanctum.
Ranganatha Swamy temple is famous as 'Bhooloka Vaikundam' suggesting that this is similar/equal to the celestial anode of Lord Vishnu.'Vaikunda Ekadasi' is an important festival at this temple.
There is a legend regarding the origin of this temple.The idol of this temple  was once  belonged to Sri Rama who worshiped it previously at Ayodhya and  it was presented to 'Vibhishana' by Sri Rama after winning the war against Ravana which he fought  at Sri Lanka.Vibhishana also accompanied Rama when he  returned back to Ayodhya after the war to witness Sri Rama's crowning as the King of Ayodhya.Vibhishana was an ardent devotee of Sri Rama and Lord Vishnu.So Sri Rama  presented this idol to him and Vibhishana  wanted to carry it to Sri Lanka.While carrying this idol to Sri Lanka he alighted at Srirangam for his daily  routine of  'Pooja rituals'.After finishing the Pooja rituals he found that the idol got stuck to the ground firmly and was unable to move it.He along with many others tried to lift it but in vain and they constructed a small temple over the image.It remained unnoticed for several years but later the temple was constructed, modified and maintained by many Rulers of famous South Indian dynasties.
Out of the 21 Towers existed in this temple, 20 towers were built between 14th and 17th centuries.The main 'Raja Gopuram' was left unfinished because of unknown reasons and was completed in 1987 only.It is 236 feet tall and is the tallest temple tower in Asia.
This temple is considered as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the World.
The gold topped  sanctum sanctorum is surrounded by seven 'Prakarams'(Outer courtyard) separated by  walls and there are 39 mandapams including the spectacular 1000 pillar mandapam, fifty shrines,several majestic

structures,21 magnificent towers,bathing ponds etc in this temple complex.
On most of the days round the year  there will be some kind of festivity in this temple but the annual main festival is a grand occasion which  is for 21 days and is celebrated in the month of 'Margazhy'(Dec-Jan). The annual festival  attracts more than 1 million visitors and devotees.
Non Hindus are allowed up to the second 'prakaram' only.
Tiruchirapally is well connected by Road and Train to all Cities of Tamil Nadu.There is an Air-Port also at Tiruchirapally.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Samayapuram Mariamman Temple,Trichy

Samayapuram Mariamman Temple which is famous as 'Samayapuram Arululmigu Mariamman Thirukkovil' is dedicated to Goddess 'Shakthi' and is visited by very large number of devotees  round the year.It is the second wealthy temple in Tamil Nadu in terms of cash flow. The first wealthy temple in Tamil Nadu State in terms of cash flow is  Palani Murugan Temple.
Samayapuram Mariamman temple is situated in Tiruchirapalli District (Trichy District) and is 15 km away from Trichy City, the Headquarters of the District and beside the National Highway- NH-45 which is from Chennai to Trichy.
The temple complex is in a beautiful pleasant location near to the Holy River Cauvery.The presiding deity, Mariamman- who is the mother of the Universe and called as 'Samayapurathai' by the devotees can be visible from the entrance of the temple itself.By the glimpse of the deity from the entrance which is a phenomenon very rare in other temples, the devotees feel as if she is waiting their arrival.
The Samayapuram Mariamman is believed as a powerful deity who fulfills the wishes of the devotees.She cures many diseases and physical problems of the devotees.Devotees believes that if she blesses, ailments which needs surgery are also cured.People suffering from chicken pox come and pray in this temple and enjoys speedy recovery.A separate rest hall is available near to the temple for such patients.'Abhisheka Theertham' (Holy water) is sprinkled on the patients by the priest for  patients suffering from small pox.
For getting cured from other ailments, a small replica  of the affected body part which is made of silver(usually) is deposited in the donation box after praying to the Goddess.Such metallic replica of body parts are available in the shops near to the temple.Rolling around the 'temple prakaram' (corridor)  is performed as an offering by several ardent devotees.
The deity of this temple is made up of sand and mud and hence 'sacred bathing- 'Abhishekam' (Unction) is not done on the main idol but it is performed on the small stone idol placed in front of the main idol.The deity is supposed to be very ancient and a belief is that  'King Dasaratha'- father of Lord Shri Rama visited and worshiped her.
The present temple complex was built in the 18th century by King Vijayaraja Chakravarthi.
The main festival of the temple is in the Tamil month 'Chithirai' (April) and starts from the first Tuesday of Chithirai month.The festival lasts for 13 days and on the 10th day 'Chariot festival' takes place in which lakhs of devotees participate.The 'procession idol' is placed inside a decorated Chariot (temple car) and pulled around the temple by the devotees.'Teppam festival' which is float festival in which a decorated float is drawn in the temple tank is also conducted.All Hindu festivals are also celebrated in this temple in a grand manner such as 'Thaipoosam'.
All Fridays in the moth of 'Thai' (15th Jan-15th Feb) and in the month of 'Aadi' (15th July-15th Aug) are celebrated in a spectacular manner in this temple.
'Samayapurathai' comes for help at the exact time of need where ever her devotees are dwelling is a firm belief of her devotees.
'Mavilakku',  a sweet item made of Jaggery,rice flour and ghee is an important offering of

 the devotees to the Goddess in this temple.
The temple has gained tremendous popularity and devotees from all parts of the country throngs to Samyapuram Mariamman temple to visit and worship 'Samayapurathai', the Divine Mother.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Palani Murugan Temple

Arulmigu Dandayudhapani Temple at Palani (Palani Murugan Temple)  in Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu is a well famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya Swamy.The younger son 'Lord Muruga' of God Mahadeva (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Parvathi Devi is highly revered in Tamil Nadu State and the Six most important Subramanya Swamy Shrines known as 'Aaru Padai Veedu' are situated in this state.Palani Murugan Temple is the third one of the 'Aru Padai Veedu' temples and visited by millions of devotees every year.
The place name is 'Pazhani' and mostly called as Palani.It is situated 60 km from Dindigul City and  is 119 km from Madurai City. Pazhani is approximately 100 km from Coimbatore.
Once Sage Narada brought a divine mango fruit at Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva and gave it as an offering  to Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi  telling that it was  a fruit of 'wisdom and knowledge'('Gnana Pazham' in Tamil).At that time their children 'Ganesha' and 'Muruga' were there.Lord Shiva and Parvathi decreed that the fruit would be given to the one who comes back first after  revolving round the Universe.Immediately Lord Muruga set off on his celestial 'Vahana', the peacock to revolve round the Universe.The elder son Lord Ganesha revolved round his parents Lord Shiva and Parvathy who are the creators of the Universe itself.More over for a child the position of his parents must be much more than the whole universe itself  in his mind.By these logic when Lord Ganesha after circling round his parents demanded for the fruit, they gave it to him.When Lord Muruga returned he became angry about this incident and set out on his peacock and reached Pazhani hills where he

performed 'tapas'.Parvathi Devi arrived there to pacify him.She consoled him by saying the truth that he himself  would be  the 'fruit of wisdom and knowledge'.'Pazham' means fruit in Tamil and Malayalam.''Nee" means 'You'.Parvathi Devi said to Subramamanya that 'Pazham Nee'.People believes that the place name 'Pazhani' derived because of this incident.
Another legend is as follows.Sage Agasthya who was the founder of 'Ayurvedic Sidha Medicine' had an Asura assistant who had tremendous physical power known as 'Idumban'.Idumban was once sent by his master to bring certain medicinal shrubs from the Himalayas but he could not distinguish some of them properly.He detached two hills called as 'Siva Diri' and 'Shakthi Giri'  in whole from the place, tied them on the two ends of a big wood, placed the wood on his shoulders and started back his journey to his master.On the way he  took rest at Pazhani by placing the hills aside.On one of that hills Lord Subramanya who was an young boy at that period was playing but Idumban was not knowing about that.Lord Subramanya immobilized the hills at Pazhani and Idumban could not move it to  carry them to Sage Agasthya.When Idumban saw Lord Murugan on one of the hills  he understood that he could not move the hills because of the trick made  by Murugan  and they had a dispute.Meanwhile Sage Agasthya reached there and he calmed both of them.Lord Muruga was impressed by the love and loyalty of Idumba towards his master.He also loved the place Pazhani and determined to make it his abode.He Appointed Idumban as his guard by the consent of Sage Agasthya.Holding 'Kavadi' as  an important means  of worship to Lord Muruga was started  after this incident.The wooden trunk carried by Idumban was the first 'Kavadi' in this respect.   
Pazhani temple dates back to about 5000 years.It is believed that a Saint 'Bhoga Sidhar' made the idol of the deity from a mixture of nine poisonous materials known as 'Nava Pashanam' but when mixed a particular proportion the final product of amalgamation  would acquire some good medicinal properties.Thus therefore the  materials which are used at this temple for 'abhishekam' (Unction) works as a medicine when consumed by the devotees  which heals several mild ailments. 'Milk', 'Panchamritham' , 'Water', 'Honey' whatever be it, they all becomes medicated by performing the 'abhishekam'(pouring on the idol) and when combines with the blessings of the Lord, it relieves several ailments and increases the health and vitality of the devotee.
Pazhani temple is situated atop a hill which is 500 feet high.One has to climb 689 steps to reach the abode of Lord Murugan at this temple.The hill is very beautiful which grows many varieties of plants, medicinal shrubs,trees like Sandalwood,Kadamba and so on.The idol of the temple is in standing posture and is supposed as the  young boyhood form of the Lord.He is  in an 'ascetic form'  detached from worldly pleasures.He holds a 'Vel' which is a spear called as 'Danda' and so Lord Subramanya has the  name as 'Dandayudha Pani,Velayudhan,Vadivelan,Vel Murugan and so on which all  means  'One who holds the Danda' or Spear.He has also several other names such as 'Karthikeyan,Kumaran,Devasenapathi,Mayilvahanan,Skanthan,Arumukhan,Saravanan,Guhan,Shanmukhan,Velan ' and so on.The temple is very beautiful and the inner sanctum is covered by 'Golden Vimanam'.There are shrines of 'Nava Durga' (Bhuvaneswari),Saptamathas,Kailasanathar,Chandeswar etc in this temple.There is also a shrine for 'Bhoga Sidhar' who made the idol of the Lord.
There are beautiful golden Chariot and Golden peacock in the temple which are used for processions.There is a 'Meenakshi Sundareswar temple' and a 'Vinayakar' temple at the foothill.There is another temple at the foot hill for Subramanya Swamy in childhood form known as 'Thiruvavinankudi Temple' and the temple pond known as 'Saravanapoigai' which are  also visited by the devotees.
There is a passage around the Pazhani temple hill known as 'Giri Veedhi' which is utilized for circling round the whole temple and hill  in devotion by the devotees and conducts processions.
The annual main festival is known as 'Brahmolsavam' and also   'Painguni Uthram festival' which is celebrated for 10 days.
'Vaikasi Visakham' is another annual festival celebrated for ten days.
Thaipooyam,Skantha Shashti etc are also celebrated in a grand manner.Skantha Shashti is celebrated for seven days.
There are major railway stations at Madurai and Dindigul.Buses are available to Palani from Chennai,Coimbatore,Madurai,Dindigul and many other cities of Tamil Nadu State.Madurai is the nearest Airport.International Airports are at Thiruvananthapuram and at Chennai.
The temple is open on all days from the early morning to 8 p.m. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tourist Attractions of Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu State

Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu State is visited by large number of tourists all the year around since there are several amazing tourist spots and famous religious shrines in this district.
Dindigul Fort,Thalaiyar Waterfalls,Kodaikanal Hill Station,Palani Murugan Temple,Christ the King Church,Begambur Big Mosque etc are some of the attractions of this district.
Our Lady of Dolours Church,Dindigul
Dindigul Fort
It is a rock Fort which is situated on the top of a hill and was built during 1605- 1659.Tipu Sultan ruled   the Fort from 1784 to 1790.
Thalaiyar Falls
Thalaiyar Waterfalls is the ninth highest falls in India with a height of 974 feet.It is a fantastic  sight and being visited by large number of tourists every year.
Dindigul City
Dindigul City is well known for its cuisine and called as 'Biriyani City'.It is also known as City of Locks,Textiles and Tannery.
The City is located between Palani Hills and Sirumalai Hills.
300 year old Roman Catholic Church,Christ the King Church,St.Joseph Church are important churches in this city.
Begambur Big Mosque,Thadikombu Perumal Temple,Abhirami Amman Temple,Anjenayar Temple,Kasi Viswanathan Temple are famous religious shrines.
Sirumalai Hill Tesort
Sirumalai Hill Resort close to Dingigul City is a famous tourist attraction.
Kodaikanal Hill Station
Kodaikanal is one of the best and distinguished tourist spot in India.It is known as the Princess of Hill Stations.This inimitable, amazing,stunning and beautiful place is worth visit.The place has abundance of big  trees such as 'Pear tree,Cypress,eucalyptus,acacia' and many more.Large number of flowering trees and plants add color to the scenario.Many types of vegetables are cultivated in the nearby villages of this city.
Rock Pillar
Kodaikanal Lake
Silver Cascade Waterfalls
Kodaikanal City has a magnificent lake which has an area of 60 acres with  boating facilities.A 5 km walking path round the lake is utilized by the tourists for a refreshing walk.
There is a botanical garden known as 'Bryant Park' near by.A Museum of National History,Kodaikanal Solar Observatory,Pillar Rocks,Bat infested Guna Caves,Silver Cascade Waterfalls etc are some of the other attractions at Kodaikanal.   

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Madurai Meenakshi Temple Festivals

 Various festivals are celebrated elaborately in a splendid manner at Madurai Meenakshi temple.There is at least one festival celebrated every month in this temple round the year.Some festivals like 'Masi Mandalam festival' extends for 48 days.Avanimoola festival,Chitra festival,Navarathri festival,Float festival,Deepavali festival,Karthika deepam festival etc are some of the big events of this temple in which thousands and thousands of devotees participates.
The Masi Mandala festival which starts in February every year is for a 'mandala' period (48 days).There would be processions of the deities along the streets around the temple which  is also part of this event.
Painguni Festival in the month of March is summer 'Vasantham festival' which is for nine days and held at 'Velliyambala Mandapam'.There would be procession of the deities along Chitra streets also.On Painguni Uthram day the deities would be taken in a procession to Arulmigu Thiruvappudayar temple.
Chithirai Festival held during the month of April-May is the main festival of the temple which starts with a flag hoisting ceremony.This festival extends for 12 days.On the 10th day celestial wedding ceremony of Lord Sundareshwarar and Meenakshi Amman  is conducted and on the next day there will be a temple-car festival.

The Spring festival is celebrated for ten days in the month of May.
Oonjal Festival is celebrated for 10 days in the month of June.
Aadi Festival is celebrated in the month of July for 10 days.Meenakshi Devi is taken out in procession in a temple-car during this festival.
Avani Festival in the month of August is  for 18 days.
During September-October Navarathri festival is celebrated which is a ten day event.
Skantha Shasthti festival during this period is celebrated for six days.
Deepavali festival which falls during Oct-Nov is also well celebrated.
Karthika Deepam Festival is celebrated for 10 days in the month of November.On the day of 'Karthikai' one lakh(100,000) 'Deepam'(Oil lamps) will be lit in the temple.
 Margali Festival -Anointing Festival Ceremony will be conducted in the month of December which is a nine day event.'Thiruvathira-Ardhra Darshanam festival is also very auspicious in this month.
Float festival is conducted in the month of January which extends for 12 days.It is also famous as 'Theppotsavam'. 
Lord Sundarsahwarar and Meenakshi Amman would be taken out in a procession to a temple pond known as 'Vandiyar Mariyamman Theppakulam' which is 3 km from Meenakshi Amman temple  and this festival is performed traditionally.
This vast temple pond was constructed in the year AD 1645 by Maharajah  Thirumala Naicker.It is one of the largest temple pond in South India which is also called as a lake.It is connected to 'Vaigai River'.On a raised land in the middle of the pond there is a 'Vinayaka'(Ganapathi) temple.In the month of 'Thai'(January) on the full moon night deities of Sundareshwarar and Meenakshi Amman are taken round the lake in colorful floats.
The deities are brought to the pond from Meenakshi temple in golden palanquins in a procession in which elephants,horses,musicians etc add charm.The idols on palanquins are placed on colorful rafts like structure which is elaborately decorated.The rafts have two long ropes tied to it  out of which one will be held by the  men standing near the Ganapathi temple at he middle of the pond.The other rope will be held by men standing on the shore and the floats are drawn slowly  round and round around the pond.The devotees standing around the pond enjoys the occasion with cheers and chants the names of the Gods.The drawing  of the rafts will be done in the morning and in the evening and a couple of rounds usually takes more than three hours.In the evening the rafts decorated with color lights and oil lamps will be a spectacular sight.The procession of the deities back to the temple is also witnessed and participated by very large flocks of devotees.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Madurai Meenakshi Temple

Madurai Meenakshi Temple (Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple,Madurai Meenakshi Amman Kovil,Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple) is situated in the heart of Madurai City of Tamil Nadu State.This more than 2500 years old temple is mentioned in many old texts and the self manifested 'Swayamboo' idols of the deities were consecrated by King of the Devas 'Lord Indra' is the belief.This temple is the most impressive attraction in the temple city of Madurai.It is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi (Devi Parvathi) and Lord Sundareshwarar (Lord Shiva).
The magnificent temple complex built in Dravidian Style is very beautiful and having gigantic 14 'Gopurams' (entrance gate structures) out of which four are 'Raja Gopurams' which have enormous  sizes and height.The Southern Gopuram is the tallest which is  160.9 feet tall.Many of the Gopurams and other  existing structures are constructed after a severe destruction by invaders in the year AD 1310.Large part of the renovation works and additional works were carried out by the King 'Thirumalai Naicker'.Some of the Gopurams were constructed by other eminet devotees.The King accepted the contribution from common people also for the construction of the temple and thereby created a feeling among them  that it is 'their own' temple.
The legend is that Parvathi Devi took the incarnation as the daughter of a childless King 'Malayadraja' by which  a three year old female child came out of the sacred fire when he conducted 'Puthrakameshti Yagna'.The child grew as a beautiful princess having 'fish shaped eyes' and other lovely features and was called as 'Meenakshi'.She attained the throne after her father's demise  as the 'Queen' of Madurai and after awhile  met 'Sundareshwarar' the human form of Lord Shiva at Kailash and  they got married.They ruled Madurai for a very long time.
They became the presiding deities of this temple when Lord Indra found the 'Swayamboo' idols at 'Kadambavanam' and installed it at the temple location.
Even though Goddess Meenakshi is having  much importance in this temple Lord Shiva is  much more important.The Shrine of Shiva temple occupies one fourth of the area of the temple and the Shrine of Goddess Meenakshi is one fourth of the area of Lord Shiva's shrine.
There are four 'Nine tier Gopurams' which are 'Raja Gopurams' in this temple  complex.
There is 'one' Seven tier Gopuram.
There are 'five'  'Fiver Tier Gopurams'
and there are two 'Golden Gopurams' for the Shrine of God Sundareshwarar and Goddess Meenakshi.
The tallest Gopuram which is on the south side was constructed in the year 1559.
East Gopuram was constructed by a Pandian King during 1216-1238 which is having a height of 153 feet.
The temple pond is called as 'Aadi Theertham' in which bloomed the 'Golden Lotus' for Lord Indra to perform Poojas.
The pond is also called as 'Parama Theertham,Gnana theertham,Mukthi theertham' etc..The devotees are supposed to take a  bath in the pond and worship the deities.It is believed that if the devotees take bath in the pond on New moon day,first day of the month,eclipse day,and other auspicious days and worship the Lord their aspirations for success will be fulfilled.The pinnacle of the 'Golden Gopurams' of 'Swamy and Amman'  can be viewed from the pond and 64 miracles of Lord Shiva can be viewed on the walls surrounding the pond.

There are various 'Mandapams' in this temple such as 'Meenakshi Naicker Mandapam,Muthupillai Mandapan.Thousand Pillar Mandapam,The celestial wedding hall,Veeravasantharayar Mandapam,The New Mandapam,Nagara Mandapam' etc.
The Gopurams,Mandapams, pillars etc are all decorated with beautiful and stunning sculptures.There are several paintings also which are all centuries old but retains its brightness and attractive beauty.The sculptures are colored  and paintings are all made with natural dyes. 
Worshiping Goddess Meenakshi Devi at first and then proceeding   to worship Lord Sundareshwarar is the traditional practice followed in this temple.There are several other deities at Madurai Meenakshi temple including Lord Ganesha.
There are ancient 44 stone inscriptions in the temple which gives light to several facts about the temple history.    

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tourist Attractions of Madurai District

Madurai District is the second largest populated district in Tamil Nadu State.The Headquarters is Madurai City which is famous as a 'Temple town' where the very famous Madurai Meenakshi Temple is situated.The city is surrounded by three small and enchanting hills 'Nagamalai,Annamalai,and Pasumalai'.
Madurai is also known as 'Athens of the East', 'City of Festivals', 'Sleepless City',City of four Junctions' etc.

Madurai is well known for the 'Jasmine Flower' which grows abundantly

here.This variety of flower is generally known as 'Malligai' locally.
Places of interest in Madurai are:-
Gandhi Museum
The Gandhiji Memorial Monument is visited by tourists which showcases  several articles that  were used by Mahatma Gandhi.The public can witness many  personal belongings of the great leader here.
Thirumalai Nayakar Palace
This beautiful Palace which was built by Maharajah Thirumala Nayakar in the year 1636 is under the care of Archaeological Department.
Kutladampatti Waterfalls

It is about 30 km northwest of Madurai City amidst reserve forest in the magnificent Western Ghats.It has a height of 27 meters and the best time to visit this waterfall is from September to February.
This rock-cut Lord Muruga temple is situated 7 km from Madurai City and it is one  among the six famous Subramanya Swamy Shrines known as 'Arupadai Veedu'.
Pazhamudir Cholai
It is located in the small hill called as 'Azhagar Koil' which is 4.5 km away from Alaganallur.It is the 6th Shrine of the famous 'Arupadai Veedu' of Lord Murugan.(Lord Subramanya Swamy).
Alaganallur is a Panchayat town in Madurai District where during the middle of January (Usually on 14th January)  every year a festival known as 'Jallikettu' is conducted which is  'Bull Fight'.Many people gather at this place on that occasion to watch this event.
Koodal Azhagar Perumal Temple
It is located in the center of the City of Madurai and it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.It is one among the 108 'Divyadesams', the holy abodes of Lord Vishnu.
Kazimar Big Mosque
Kazimar Big Mosque or 'Kasimar Periya Pallivasal' is  located in the heart of Madurai City.It was established in the 13th century.This first Mosque of Madurai can accommodate 2500 worshipers.
St.Mary's Cathedral Church

St.Mary's Cathedral Church in Madurai was established in the year 1841 CE.
This Shrine is very famous and  is situated in the heart of Madurai City.